Cathy Alessi

University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, United States

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Publications (82)335.59 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Objectives To examine the relationship between changes in objectively assessed sleep and global cognitive functioning from inpatient postacute rehabilitation to 6-month follow-up. DesignSecondary analysis of two prospective, longitudinal studies. SettingInpatient rehabilitation units at a Veterans Affairs Medical Center. ParticipantsOlder adults (mean age 73.8 ± 9.4) undergoing inpatient rehabilitation (n = 192). MeasurementsAll participants completed 7 nights and days of ambulatory sleep monitoring using wrist actigraphy (yielding an estimate of nighttime wakefulness and daytime sleep) and the Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) during a postacute inpatient rehabilitation stay and 6 months after discharge. The 5-item Geriatric Depression Scale, Geriatric Pain Measure, and Cumulative Illness Rating Scale for Geriatrics were completed during inpatient rehabilitation. ResultsGrowth curve modeling (controlling for baseline age, education, sex, body mass index, depression, pain, and comorbidity burden) revealed that individuals whose amount of daytime sleep decreased from inpatient postacute rehabilitation to 6-month follow-up also experienced improvements in MMSE score (β= −0.01, t(80 = −3.22, P = .002)). Change in nighttime wakefulness was not a significant predictor of change in MMSE score. Conclusion Older adults whose daytime sleeping decreased after hospital discharge also experienced improvements in cognitive functioning at 6 month follow-up. As such, daytime sleep may represent a promising candidate for targeted interventions aimed at promoting cognitive recovery after hospital discharge.
    Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 01/2014; 62(1). · 3.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Evidence suggests that medical equipment often fails to accommodate the needs of individuals with disabling conditions. Few studies have focused on the accessibility of home medical devices such as positive airway pressure (PAP), which is a type of home medical equipment prescribed for long-term therapy. Objective The purpose of this study was to explore in detail the types of difficulties experienced by patients with physical/sensory impairments who use PAP devices, as an initial step in designing a questionnaire to survey users about this topic. Methods In this descriptive study, in-depth interviews were conducted with 19 participants (9 patients with physical/sensory impairment and 10 healthcare providers). Interviews were coded and analyzed for major topics. Results Participants detailed the numerous ways in which current PAP devices fail to meet the needs of individuals with physical/sensory impairments (e.g., tremor, poor depth perception, paresis), by requiring patients to perform manually difficult tasks, such as inserting PAP parts through small apertures, attaching parts using a twisting motion, and lifting arms overhead to apply PAP headgear. These demands contributed to patients’ frustration with and reduced usage of the home medical device. Conclusions Our findings suggest that home medical devices such as PAP may not be currently designed to meet the needs of some users with physical/sensory impairments. Additional studies are needed to measure the prevalence and impact of impairment-related barriers on PAP adherence for this common medical equipment.
    Disability and Health Journal. 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Sleep quality is related to emotional, physical, psychological and cognitive functioning and functional independence in later life. After acute health events, older adults are likely to utilize postacute rehabilitation services to improve functioning and facilitate return to independent living. Patterns of how sleep changes with postacute rehabilitation, and predictors of such patterns, are unknown. The current investigation employed latent class analysis (LCA) methods to classify older adults (n = 233) into groups based on patterns of self-reported sleep quality pre-illness, during postacute rehabilitation and up to 1 year following postacute rehabilitation. Using LCA, older adults were grouped into (1) consistently good sleepers (46%), (2) good sleepers who transitioned into poor sleepers (34%), (3) consistently poor sleepers (14%) and (4) poor sleepers who transitioned into good sleepers (6%). In three planned analyses, pain was an independent predictor of membership in classes 1 or 2 (good pre-illness sleep quality) versus classes 3 or 4 (poor pre-illness sleep quality), and of membership in class 1 (consistently good sleep) versus class 2 (good sleep that transitioned to poor sleep). A lower Mini-Mental State Examination score was a predictor of membership in class 1 versus class 2. There were no statistically significant predictors of membership in class 3 versus class 4. Demographics, comorbidities and depressive symptoms were not significant predictors of class membership. These findings have implications for identification of older adults at risk for developing poor sleep associated with changes in health and postacute rehabilitation. The findings also suggest that pain symptoms should be targeted to improve sleep during postacute rehabilitation.
    Journal of Sleep Research 07/2013; · 3.04 Impact Factor
  • Cathy Alessi, Michael V Vitiello
    American family physician 02/2013; 87(4):280-1. · 1.61 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the prevalence of occult sleep disordered breathing (SDB) and describe the relationship between classic SDB symptoms (e.g., loud snoring) and occult SDB in older veterans with insomnia. We analyzed baseline survey and in-home sleep study data for 435 veterans (mean age = 72.0 years [SD 8.0]) who had no known history of SDB, met International Classification of Sleep Disorders 2(nd) Edition criteria for insomnia, and were enrolled in a behavioral intervention trial for insomnia. Variables of interest included apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) ≥ 15, age, race/ethnicity, marital status, body mass index (BMI), insomnia subtype (i.e., onset, maintenance, or terminal), self-reported excessive daytime sleepiness, snoring, and witnessed breathing pause items from the Berlin Questionnaire. We computed the frequency of AHI ≥ 15 and assessed whether each classic SDB symptom was associated with an AHI ≥ 15 in 4 separate multivariate logistic regression models. Prevalence of AHI ≥ 15 was 46.7%. Excessive daytime sleepiness (adjusted odds ratio 1.63, 95% CI 1.02, 2.60, p = 0.04), but not snoring loudness, snoring frequency, or witnessed breathing pauses was associated with occult SDB (AHI ≥ 15). Insomnia subtypes were not significantly associated with occult SDB (p > 0.38). In our sample of older veterans with insomnia, nearly half had occult SDB, which was characterized by reported excessive daytime sleepiness, but not loud or frequent snoring or witnessed breathing pauses. Insomnia subtype was unrelated to the presence of occult SDB. Fung CH; Martin JL; Dzierzewski JM; Jouldjian S; Josephson K; Park M; Alessi C. Prevalence and symptoms of occult sleep disordered breathing among older veterans with insomnia. J Clin Sleep Med 2013;9(11):1173-1178.
    Journal of clinical sleep medicine: JCSM: official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine 01/2013; 9(11):1173-8. · 2.93 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: Little is known about the ease of use of positive airway pressure (PAP) equipment and whether PAP equipment usability is associated with adherence. This pilot project aims to determine whether perceived difficulty with the mechanics of using PAP equipment is associated with nonadherence. METHODS: Within a larger study of insomnia treatments, we screened (via telephone interview) 148 adults for sleep apnea/prior PAP use and asked them to describe the degree of difficulty putting on their PAP mask, adjusting their mask straps, turning dials/pushing PAP machine buttons, disconnecting tubing, and removing the machine's water chamber (five items; five-point Likert-like scale) and to report their PAP use (0 versus ≥1 days in the past week). RESULTS: Mean age of participants was 66.7 years (SD 7.0). Thirty respondents (20.3 %) reported at least "some difficulty" with at least one aspect of PAP equipment usability, and 15 respondents (10.1 %) reported at least "quite a lot of difficulty" with one or more aspects of PAP equipment usability. Of the participants, 43.9 % reported not using PAP equipment at all during the past week. Participants (73.3 %) with substantial PAP equipment difficulty (at least quite a lot of difficulty) versus 40.6 % without substantial difficulty reported zero nights of PAP use in the past week (chi-square 5.86, p = .015). CONCLUSIONS: Difficulty using PAP equipment is associated with PAP nonadherence. Studies are needed to confirm these findings and to identify determinants of poor usability. If findings are confirmed, strategies could be developed to improve PAP usability, which may improve adherence.
    Sleep And Breathing 11/2012; · 2.26 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Centers (GRECCs) originated in 1975 in response to the rapidly aging veteran population. Since its inception, the GRECC program has made major contributions to the advancement of aging research, geriatric training, and clinical care within and outside the VA. GRECCs were created to conduct translational research to enhance the clinical care of future aging generations. GRECC training programs also provide leadership in educating healthcare providers about the special needs of older persons. GRECC programs are also instrumental in establishing robust clinical geriatric and aging research programs at their affiliated university schools of medicine. This report identifies how the GRECC program has successfully adapted to changes that have occurred in VA since 1994, when the program's influence on U.S. geriatrics was last reported, focusing on its effect on advancing clinical geriatrics in the last 10 years. This evidence supports the conclusion that, after more than 30 years, the GRECC program remains a vibrant "jewel in the crown of the VA" and is poised to make contributions to aging research and clinical geriatrics well into the future.
    Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 06/2012; 60(7):1347-56. · 3.98 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To explore the unique impact of poor sleep and symptoms of depression on sleep quality for up to 1 year after inpatient post-acute rehabilitation among older adults. Prospective longitudinal cohort study. Two inpatient post-acute rehabilitation facilities. A total of 245 individuals older than 65 years (mean age = 80 years, 38% women). None. Sleep quality was assessed with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) during the post-acute care stay twice to evaluate pre-illness sleep quality and sleep quality during the post-acute care stay, and again at 3-, 6-, 9-, and 12-month follow-up. Demographics, symptoms of depression, cognitive functioning, and comorbidities were also assessed. Across time points, sleep was significantly disturbed for many individuals. Nested regression models predicting PSQI total score at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months showed that variables entered in Block 1 (age, gender, cognitive functioning, and comorbidities) were significant predictors of poor sleep at 6-month follow-up but not at 3-, 9-, or 12-month follow-up. Depression (Block 2) and pre-illness PSQI total score (Block 3) were significant predictors of PSQI total score at all follow-up time points. PSQI total score during post-acute care (Block 4) explained a significant proportion of variance only at the 3-month follow-up. This study confirms that chronic poor sleep is common among older adults during post-acute rehabilitation and resolution of sleep disturbance after acute health events may be a lengthy process. Our findings expand understanding of the role of depressive symptoms and preexisting sleep complaints in predicting poor sleep over time among these vulnerable older adults.
    The American journal of geriatric psychiatry: official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry 06/2012; 20(6):477-84. · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Women will account for 10% of the Veteran population by 2020, yet there has been little focus on sleep issues among women Veterans. In a descriptive study of 107 women Veterans with insomnia (mean age = 49 years, 44% non-Hispanic white), 55% had probable post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (total score ≥33). Probable PTSD was related to more severe self-reported sleep disruption and greater psychological distress. In a regression model, higher PTSD Checklist-Civilian (PCL-C) total score was a significant independent predictor of worse insomnia severity index score while other factors were not. Women Veterans preferred behavioral treatments over pharmacotherapy in general, and efforts to increase the availability of such treatments should be undertaken. Further research is needed to better understand the complex relationship between insomnia and PTSD among women Veterans.
    Behavioral Sleep Medicine 05/2012; · 1.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate whether objectively and subjectively measured sleep disturbances persist among older adults in assisted living facilities (ALFs) and to identify predictors of sleep disturbance in this setting. Prospective, observational cohort study. A total of 121 residents, age ≥ 65 years, in 18 ALFs in the Los Angeles area. Objective (actigraphy) and subjective (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) sleep measures were collected at baseline and 3- and 6-month follow-up. Predictors of baseline sleep disturbance tested in bivariate analyses and multiple regression models included demographics, Mini-Mental State Examination score, number of comorbidities, nighttime sedating medication use, functional status (activities of daily living; instrumental activities of daily living), restless legs syndrome, and sleep apnea risk. Objective and subjective sleep measures were similar at baseline and 3- and 6-month follow-up (objective nighttime total sleep [hours] 6.3, 6.5, and 6.4; objective nighttime percent sleep 77.2, 77.7, and 78.3; and Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index total score 8.0, 7.8, and 7.7, respectively). The mean baseline nighttime percent sleep decreased by 2% for each additional unit increase in baseline comorbid conditions (measured as the number of conditions), and increased by 4.5% for each additional unit increase in baseline activities of daily living (measured as the number of activities of daily living), in a multiple regression model. In this study, we found that objectively and subjectively measured sleep disturbances are persistent among ALF residents and are related to a greater number of comorbidities and poorer functional status at baseline. Interventions are needed to improve sleep in this setting.
    The American journal of geriatric psychiatry: official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry 04/2012; 20(6):485-93. · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A standardized method of assessing daytime drowsiness in frail nursing home residents has not been previously available. We present here the development and test characteristics of an instrument to measure daytime drowsiness in nursing home residents with cognitive and functional impairment, the Multiple Sleep Latency Test-Nursing Home (MSLT-NH). In a standardized manner, the resident is tested three times in one day (at 9 a.m., 11 a.m., and 1 p.m.) to measure the amount of time until the subject falls asleep. The average sleep latency (minutes to fall asleep) is the measure of interest. We tested the MSLT-NH in 95 residents from six community nursing homes in the Los Angeles area (82% of subjects were female; 81% were white, mean age was 86.6 years and mean score on the Mini-Mental State Examination [MMSE] was 9.4). Interrater reliability of the MSLT-NH was quite good (correlations between raters ranged from 0.98 to 0.99; all p values were <.0001). Validity was assessed by comparing MSLT-NH results to simultaneous wrist activity estimation of sleep, and by comparing MSLT-NH findings to results from nighttime sleep estimation by wrist actigraphy the night prior to MSLT-NH. The percent agreement between MSLT-NH and wrist actigraph ranged from 77% to 79% MSLT-NH results were significantly associated with peak duration of nighttime sleep episodes the night prior to testing. The MSLT-NH was also quite acceptable for use in the NH setting. In conclusion, we have developed a promising measure of daytime drowsiness in NH residents. Further testing will help establish whether this test is a clinically useful measure of daytime drowsiness from medications or other conditions in the NH setting.
    Journal of Clinical Geropsychology 04/2012; 6(4):315-323.
  • Cathy A Alessi, Michael V Vitiello
    The American journal of geriatric psychiatry: official journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry 04/2012; 20(6):457-9. · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cortisol is a stress-related hormone with a robust circadian rhythm where levels typically peak in the morning hours and decline across the day. Although acute cortisol increases resulting from stressors are adaptive, chronic elevated cortisol levels are associated with poor functioning. Studies have shown age-related changes in cortisol levels. The present study investigated the relationship between salivary diurnal cortisol and functional outcomes among older adults undergoing inpatient post-acute rehabilitation. Thirty-two older adults (mean age 78 years; 84% men) in a Veterans Administration inpatient post-acute rehabilitation unit were studied. Functional outcomes were assessed with the motor component of the Functional Independence Measure (mFIM; where mFIM change = discharge - admission score). Saliva samples were collected on 1 day at wake time, 45 minutes later, 11:30 AM, 2 PM, 4:30 PM, and bedtime. We analyzed the relationship between cortisol measures and functional outcomes, demographics, and health measures. The analyses consistently showed that greater functional improvement (mFIM change) from admission to discharge was associated with lower comorbidity scores and higher cortisol levels at 2 PM, 4:30 PM, and bedtime. A morning cortisol rise was also associated with greater mFIM change. Measurement of cortisol in saliva may be a useful biological marker for identification of patients who are "at risk" of lower benefits from inpatient rehabilitation services and who may require additional assistance or intervention during their post-acute care stay.
    The Journals of Gerontology Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 01/2012; 67(6):677-82. · 4.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Previous research has identified patterns of cognitive deficits in patients with Alzheimer disease (AD), but little is known about their pattern of daily functional impairment. A total of 49 patients with AD and 52 healthy elderly controls were administered neuropsychological tests as well as the Direct Assessment of Functional Status (DAFS) test, an observation-based test of activities of daily living (ADLs). In this project, we assessed 14 separate tasks assessed by the DAFS. To analyze the data, 4 cognitive domains were created using neuropsychological composite z scores (means and standard deviation obtained from control data) for patients with AD. Results revealed that patients with AD performed worse on the memory, language, and visual-spatial relative to the executive domain. Additionally, patients with AD performed poorer than the controls on nearly all 14 DAFS tasks, with their worse performance being on the shopping-related tasks which, in part, requires memory skills. Logistic regression revealed better specificity than sensitivity classifications based on the DAFS tasks, and stepwise regression analyses indicated that cognitive domains predicted specific aspects of functional abilities. These findings suggest that patients with AD display a distinct pattern of ADLs performance, that traditional neuropsychological tests are useful in predicting daily functioning, and the DAFS has some strengths and weaknesses in classifying AD and controls.
    Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology 03/2011; 24(1):23-32. · 3.53 Impact Factor
  • Cathy Alessi, Michael V Vitiello
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    ABSTRACT: Up to 40% of older adults have insomnia, with difficulty getting to sleep, early waking, or feeling unrefreshed on waking. The prevalence of insomnia increases with age. Other risk factors include psychological factors, stress, daytime napping, and hyperarousal. METHODS AND OUTCOMES: We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical questions: What are the effects of non-drug treatments for insomnia in older people? What are the effects of drug treatments for insomnia in older people? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to December 2010 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). We found 34 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions. In this systematic review, we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: antidepressants, benzodiazepines, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), diphenhydramine, exercise programmes, timed exposure to bright light, zaleplon, zolpidem, and zopiclone.
    Clinical evidence 01/2011; 2011.
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    ABSTRACT: To evaluate the association between self-reported sleep quality among older adults during inpatient post-acute rehabilitation and one-year survival. Prospective, observational cohort study. Two inpatient post-acute rehabilitation sites (one community and one Veterans Administration). Older patients (aged ≥ 65 years, n = 245) admitted for inpatient post-acute rehabilitation. None. Within one year of post-acute rehabilitation, 57 participants (23%) were deceased. Cox proportional hazards models showed that worse Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) total scores during the post-acute care stay were associated with increased mortality risk when controlling for amount of rehabilitation therapy received, comorbidities, and cognitive functioning (Hazard ratio [95% CI] = 1.11 [1.02-1.20]). Actigraphically estimated sleep was unrelated to mortality risk. Poorer self-reported sleep quality, but not objectively estimated sleep parameters, during post-acute rehabilitation was associated with shorter survival among older adults. This suggests self-reported poor sleep may be an important and potentially modifiable risk factor for negative outcomes in these vulnerable older adults. Studies of interventions to improve sleep quality during inpatient rehabilitation should therefore be undertaken, and the long-term health benefits of improved sleep should be explored.
    Sleep 01/2011; 34(12):1715-21. · 5.10 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Excessive daytime sleeping is associated with poorer functional outcomes in rehabilitation populations and may be improved with targeted interventions. The purpose of this study was to test simple methods of screening for excessive daytime sleeping among older adults admitted for postacute rehabilitation. Secondary analysis of data from 2 clinical samples. Two postacute rehabilitation (PAR) units in southern California. Two hundred twenty-six patients older than 65 years with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score higher than 11 undergoing rehabilitation. The primary outcome was excessive daytime sleeping, defined as greater than 15% (1.8 hours) of daytime hours (8 am to 8 pm) sleeping as measured by actigraphy. Participants spent, on average, 16.2% (SD 12.5%) of daytime hours sleeping as measured by actigraphy. Thirty-nine percent of participants had excessive daytime sleeping. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) was significantly associated with actigraphically measured daytime sleeping (P = .0038), but the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS) was not (P = .49). Neither the ESS nor the PSQI achieved sufficient sensitivity and specificity to be used as a screening tool for excessive daytime sleeping. Two additional models using items from these questionnaires were not significantly associated with the outcome. In an older PAR population, self-report items from existing sleep questionnaires do not identify excessive daytime sleeping. Therefore we recommend objective measures for the evaluation of excessive daytime sleeping as well as further research to identify new self-report items that may be more applicable in PAR populations.
    Journal of the American Medical Directors Association 09/2010; 13(2):127-35. · 5.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To describe sleep patterns in older adults living in assisted living facilities (ALFs) and to explore the relationship between sleep disturbance and quality of life, functional status, and depression over 6 months of follow-up. Prospective, observational cohort study. Eighteen ALFs in the Los Angeles area. One hundred twenty-one ALF residents aged 65 and older (mean age 85.3, 86% female, 88% non-Hispanic white). Data were collected at baseline and 3 and 6 months after enrollment. Data collected were demographics, physical and cognitive functioning, depression, quality of life, comorbidities, medications, and subjective (i.e., questionnaires) and objective (i.e., 3 days and nights of wrist actigraphy) measures of sleep. Sixty-five percent of participants reported clinically significant sleep disturbance on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and objective wrist actigraphy confirmed poor sleep quality. In regression analyses including sleep variables and other predictors, more self-reported sleep disturbance at baseline was associated with worse health-related quality of life (Medical Outcomes Study 12-item Short Form Survey Mental Component Summary score) and worse depressive symptoms five-item Geriatric Depression Scale at follow-up. Worse nighttime sleep (according to actigraphy) at baseline was associated with worse activities of daily living functioning and more depressive symptoms at follow-up. Sleep disturbance is common in older ALF residents, and poor sleep is associated with declining functional status and quality of life and greater depression over 6 months of follow-up. Studies are needed to determine whether improving sleep in ALF residents will result in improvements in these outcomes. Well-established treatments should be adapted for use in ALFs and systematically evaluated in future research.
    Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 05/2010; 58(5):829-36. · 3.98 Impact Factor
  • Brain Behavior and Immunity - BRAIN BEHAV IMMUN. 01/2010; 24.
  • Navid Ezra, Cathy A Alessi
    Journal of the American Geriatrics Society 12/2009; 57(12):2353-4. · 3.98 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

3k Citations
335.59 Total Impact Points


  • 1997–2014
    • University of California, Los Angeles
      • • School of Nursing
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Division of Geriatrics
      Los Angeles, California, United States
  • 2005–2013
    • VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
      • Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center
      Los Angeles, California, United States
  • 2000–2013
    • CSU Mentor
      Long Beach, California, United States
  • 2012
    • University of Everett Washington
      Los Angeles, California, United States
    • University of California, San Diego
      • Department of Medicine
      San Diego, CA, United States
  • 2007–2011
    • California State University, Northridge
      • Department of Psychology
      Los Angeles, CA, United States
  • 2007–2008
    • Mayo Clinic - Rochester
      Rochester, Minnesota, United States
  • 2004–2007
    • University of Southern California
      • Department of Medicine
      Los Angeles, California, United States
  • 2006
    • Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research
      Rochester, Michigan, United States
  • 1998–1999
    • Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center
      Torrance, California, United States
    • Soonchunhyang University
      Onyang, South Chungcheong, South Korea
  • 1994
    • Children's Hospital Los Angeles
      Los Angeles, California, United States